Don’t Miss The Next Beat
Whilst perusing the aisles of John Lewis in the run up to Christmas, a crowd of people surrounding one particular display caught my attention. The crowd was a mix of demographics: from teens to those in their mid 40s; both men and women; and a range of ethnicities. So what was the cause of this gathering? Headphones. BEATS BY DR DRE headphones, to be precise.
For me,this brand is one of the true success stories of 2012. Founded in 2006, BEATS BY DR DRE has grown from a niche brand for die hard rap and R&B music fans into a multi-million dollar brand loved by the masses, with the most significant rise in fortunes appearing to come in the past 12 months. So how has this growth come about?
Firstly, it has clarity of purpose built on a strong brand identity and excellent product quality. The company’s mission is to provide a superior end-to-end music experience – with headphones, devices and services – so fans feel the emotion and hear the music the way artists intended it to sound from the studio. The brand has been easily identifiable thanks to the consistent use of a strong primary colour palette of red, black and white – colour ways which have only recently diversified now that the brand is more established in the marketplace. On a busy commuter train, the quickest of glances around my fellow passengers makes it easy to spot the distinctive coloured headphones sitting on people’s heads.
But BEATS BY DR DRE products don’t seem to be a case of ‘all show, but no go’. The products get consistently good reviews, in both niche and mainstream press; the headphones are considered by many as the best in terms of sound quality. Like all successful brands then, BEATS BY DR DRE delivers on its promise to consumers.
Next, BEATS BY DR DRE has created an experience, not simply a product.The link back to the brand’s mission is clear from every single consumer touch point. For example, the brand is often featured in music videos to reinforce the premise that great music can only truly be done justice via BEATS-branded products.
Further explanation for its success is the fact that BEATS BY DR DRE isn’t afraid to break the rules. It was the only brand to successfully break through the Olympic ambush marketing restrictions.Some of the world’s most high profile sports stars were seen wearing headphones that were gifted to them by the company (often in national colour-schemes) and many then proceeded to publicly ‘thank’, via social media – marketing gold dust! And the tactic worked. As an example, John Lewis reported a 116 per cent increase in BEATS BY DR DRE headphone sales during the Games. The brand made notable commercial gains, whilst simultaneously re-establishing its ‘underground’, subversive, cool roots and reinforcing its primary promotional tool of celebrity endorsement to create an aspirational brand.
Finally, BEATS BY DR DRE has got consumers thinking, feeling and acting differently. Not only has it succeeded in getting the public talking about the brand and its products, but they have also successfully changed the perceptions of the mainstream consumer who now see headphones as being as important, if not more so, than the device from which the music is played. The financials appear to demonstrate that this change in perception has transcended into consumer purchases, even despite a very premium pricing point. And with tie-ups with HTC for mobile phones, HP for laptops and Chrysler for cars, it seems clear that BEATS BY DR DRE has designs on changing consumer perceptions on virtually all other audio experiences too. Watch this space for TVs with BEATS BY DR DRE audio which will surely be hitting the shelves soon…
It has been really exciting to see what BEATS BY DR DRE has achieved in 2012. The question now is: ‘where next’? Well, the recently launched BEATS EXECUTIVE headphones, aimed at the ‘boardroom exec’and costing a mere $300, indicates a desire to further increase mass-market appeal and share. Also, the brand appears to be moving into other related areas, such as speakers and car audio, as it attempts to ‘own’ the audio experience and market space. I would be very surprised if the crowds weren’t back next Christmas – this time with an even broader range of faces.
By Anna Cordon, Senior Consultant